Photo: zieak via Flickr/CC BY
Needless to say, it's been a depressing year for environmentally conscious folk -- with the BP spill, the hottest global temps on record, and the death of any hopes for climate legislation in the US, it's been bleak, bleak, bleak. But at least someone's winning: The industries profiting from selling us coal and oil! Yes, the failure of the climate bill in the Senate was no fluke -- a new report tallies up the amount that coal, oil, utilities, and heavy industries forked over in lobbying the government to maintain the status quo. Over the last year and a half, it came out to around $500 million. Now, guess how much renewable energy lobbyists spent?$17 million. Altogether. Which shouldn't be surprising, given that last year, we found out that the entire renewable energy lobby combined mustered less than what just Exxon alone doled out. But it's still depressing to see how true the old adage that money runs politics really is. There was no bill that was more of political winner than clean energy -- American voters consistently supported it in the polls, it was part of Barack Obama's successful presidential campaign platform in 2008, and huge numbers of small business owners and groups turned out to support it, even if the US Chamber of Commerce did anything but.
And yet, money talks. Take a look -- this figure is from a recent CAP report:
To break it down, look at which players spent the most. You'll see some familiar faces -- Exxon, Chevron, BP, and good ol' Koch Industries. Each of these companies has a vested interest in, quite frankly, delaying wide scale US investment in clean energy, and of course, stopping any efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their tracks.
From the report:
The oil, gas, and coal industries have spent over $2 billion lobbying Congress since 1999. These three industries combined spent a whopping $543 million on lobbying in 2009 and the first two quarters of 2010 ...So that should give you some idea why, despite the goodwill amongst the American public for clean energy legislation, it failed -- and continues to fail -- to get through Congress.
The 20 biggest-spending oil, mining, and electric utility companies shelled out $242 million on lobbying from January 2009 to June 2010 . Trade associations that generally oppose clean energy policies spent another $290 million during this time. This is over $1,800 in lobby expenditures a day for every single senator and representative.